Vale Peter McGlinchey

The following is a Eulogy given by Gerry McInerney at Mr McGlinchey’s funeral. An edited version was printed in The Bugle.

Peter McGlinchey OAM

The good folk of Jamberoo will not see his like again, nor those from Kiama and the Illawarra. He was a giant among pygmies, whose help for people, the community and many of its organisations was legendary and without peer. He lived the Gospel exhortation “Love thy neighbour”. There are few today who volunteer for one organisation, let alone two, even less for three and so on. Not only was Peter McGlinchey a volunteer for so many organisations that he believed in, but he ran most of them at various times in his life, and successfully as well. “Where did he have time to fit it all in?

Charles Peter Austin McGlinchey OAM was born at “Myree Hill” on 1st September 1929, the only son of Charles and Margaret McGlinchey. He attended Shellharbour Primary School and later the Christian Brothers College in Wollongong, riding to and from Dunmore railway station on his horse. On leaving school he worked for his father on the dairy growing peas and potatoes to supplement his wage. He became involved with the Junior Farmers, this taught him skills that would enable him to be the man that he became. He held the office of President at one stage and also the President of the South Coast and Tablelands Agricultural Union.

Peter was a member of the McGlinchey family association committee which produced the book Voyage of Discovery. Peter & Pat enjoyed the many get-togethers and family reunions brought about by his new venture. As well a trip to Ireland with a purpose.

Like his father before him, Peter was a great footballer, playing for Jamberoo and winning premierships. Peter was chosen as lock forward to represent Southern Districts in the annual Country Week Championships in 1955. He was associated with the club for nineteen years as a director. At school he enjoyed the sport of boxing.

Peter met his future wife, Mary Patricia Ford, known to all as Pat, at a ball in Berry to which she had been invited down from Sydney by her Aunty Gertie. Her aunty had provided her with a hatpin in case a beau became too amorous, but as it turned out to be the well behaved Peter, its use was not necessary. They married on 19th April 1952 at Our Lady of Lourdes, Earlwood.

Peter and Pat suffered the loss of their first born, Mark, on 5th August 1955 when he was only two days old. Eight days later Peter’s father died, and he was left with the responsibility of looking after his mother and two sisters, Sheila and Aileen, and his own children that were to follow; Mary in 1957, Bernard in 1958, Louise in 1959, Eileen in 1963 and Joseph in 1967.

Peter who had entered a formal partnership with his father and mother in the farm in 1951, found he now needed to supplement his income. He purchased a truckload of horses from out west and would break them in and sell them. He also acquired a thoroughbred stallion named Dark Haven which he used to service mares that were brought to the farm. His herd of cows eventually reached two hundred and fifty and produced a million litres of milk per annum. He bought out his mother’s share in the farm in 1963. The farm had suffered severe drought after the great depression and Peter was able to build numerous surface water dams, wells and a bore to guarantee as far as possible its productivity.

He loved the dairy industry, fought incessantly for it and gave unstintingly of his time to its betterment through his active participation in the dairy co-operative movement. A long-time director of the Jamberoo Dairy Co-operative Milk Factory, he was Chairman in 1982 and 1983 and oversaw its amalgamation with the Nowra Dairy Co-operative to become the Shoalhaven Dairy Co-operative and was elected its inaugural Deputy-Chairman. He became Chairman in 1986 and held the position for four years. He was actively involved in the amalgamation of the Hunter Valley Dairy Co-operative, the Shoalhaven Dairy Co-operative and Dairy Farmers Co-operative to form Australian Co Operative Foods, known as “Dairy Farmers”, and served on its board for many years. On a more local note, Peter was a member of the Terragong Swamp Drainage Union from its inception in 1974.

Peter’s love of horses began at an early age and by the age of nine he had already twice won prizes as champion boy rider at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. His role as a judge of hack and equestrian event began at the Canberra Royal Agricultural Society Show in 1953. He was a prominent horse judge and steward at the Shoalhaven, Berry & Kiama Shows for over fifty years and was awarded Life Membership of all three societies. A President of the Kiama Show Society and well Zone 5 Society President, Peter was the Chief Horse Steward and Ringmaster at Kiama Show for over thirty years. He has judged equestrian events at the Melbourne and Adelaide Shows and the New South Wales rural circuit.

At the Sydney Royal Easter Show he was a Steward in the horse section from 1969 to 2010 and also served as timekeeper on five occasions. In 1970 he was the Section Judge for Hacks – Galloways, Geldings or Mares; Galloways – Led-in; in 1984 and 1995, Judge – Show jumping Competition; 2009 and 2010 Section Judge – Pony Club Teams Show jumping. He received both a 25 Year Service Award and a 35 Year Service Award from the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. He was recognized at a dinner by the RAS NSW in 2011 for his significant contribution to the Sydney Royal Easter Show over a period exceeding forty years.

Peter’s passion for horses led him to qualify as an Olympic show jumping judge in 1953 when the sport was first introduced into Australia and he would be one of a select number of Australia’s international judges of the Fédération Equestre Internationale.

Peter was instrumental in the formation of the Kiama Pony Club. He not only served as its first President, holding the position for ten years but was elected President of Zone 22 as well. He heard there was a shed not wanted at HMAS Albatross that would suit the Pony Club just nicely. He drove down to Nowra, disassembled the shed, loaded onto his truck and drove back to Jamberoo. For six years Peter was Chairman of the Chief Instructors Committee for the NSW Association. He has probably taught more children to ride a horse than any person in this state. He has life membership of both Kiama & Zone 22 Pony Clubs.

With Bernard working on the farm, Peter acquired a backhoe and did contract work for local councils. It also came in very handy for doing “freebies” for a number of organisations that he supported.

Ten years ago, Peter suffered a stroke. This was a cruel blow to a man who had been so physically active. His distress was greatly exacerbated by the death of Pat, his wife of 64 years on 5th September 2016. With another bout of hospitalisation and the difficulty of living at home alone, a trial at Mayflower Aged Care Facility was spectacularly unsuccessful, only lasting several weeks as Peter’s stubbornness prevailed and he returned home to Myree Hill. Between his family and the HammondCare team who were employed to assist Peter, life at Myree Hill became manageable again.

He would be taken by “A.T.” to the Bowling Club on a Friday night, to meet with lifelong friends. Joe would take him to Mass at Jamberoo on a Sunday morning and friends would call out to visit him regularly. This became impractical eventually and Peter was again hospitalised after a fall. Covid-19 came to Australia, visitations were restricted. Released to HammondCare at Horsley Peter suffered kidney failure, was again admitted to hospital, received the last rites and returned to HammondCare where he died peacefully surrounded by family on Thursday, 18th June 2020.

Peter’s sister-in-law, Marie, in a note to me remembers Peter as the quintessential country man – proud of his McGlinchey heritage, his Catholic faith, the land he worked on; a man involved with a passion in south coast farming issues, his community and for the beloved nuns at the Abbey.

A fond nephew and Godson, John Bowden wrote to me of the great holidays and weekends spent on the McGlinchey farm and the Christmases there for the extended families. There was hay making, horse riding, driving tractors The meeting of the neighbours, Bill Kelleher, the Wards, the Pipers and the Kings, at the milk stand awaiting the milk can collection by Alan Norman. He was a wonderful mentor and instilled a passion for agriculture in many. An Uncle to many, who recall work, play, horse rides, tractors, hay carting, motorbikes, gymkhanas, Fox hunts with the Sydney Hunt Club in their red coats and the hounds. The thrills and spills of an open home which included the workplace of Myree Hill

There was a memorable trip to Gooloogong where Peter discovered he could obtain a marble altar from a disused church there, to be installed at St Matthew’s, Jamberoo. John Chittick & Peter collected the marble slabs and laid them flat on the bottom of the truck and then proceeded to a farm near Cowra where Peter had arranged to pick up some hay. They laid three layers of the old style bales on top of the marble and put a tarpaulin over the top as rain was threatening. They came to a Department of Motor Transport Inspection point and had to go over the weighbridge. The inspector looked at the weight and then proceeded to check the truck. Looking in the back he saw three layers of hay bales. He waved them through and was heard to mutter it was the heaviest three layers of hay he had ever experienced. The marble now graces St Matthew’s.

Peter was always willing to give other local farmers in need of a hand, whether it be when they were making hay or had some other need. He instilled in his children it was the right thing to do.

The children remember Peter as a loving, caring father and husband, always whistling while he worked. He was somewhat reserved at showing affection, as was common for fathers at the time, and a strict disciplinarian. He had a strong sense of social justice, supporting the underdog, and insisting that the children fight for their beliefs; a man who was calm in a crisis, particularly when they had accidents or near misses. Bern’s only regret was that his Dad couldn’t get to watch him play Rugby League because of his weekend milking commitments. He encouraged them to be adventurous. When we’d be riding and come off. We’d hear “ninety-nine to go!”

I asked Peter’s son, Joe, what advice his father had ever given him. Dad used to always say, remembers Joe, “If you are going to do anything, son, do it properly”

Dads passion led his children all over the state and beyond as they followed him when he judging or course building, these were their family holidays. He loved the shows and the people he met along the way became life-long friends.

All of the Grandchildren remember being told wherever you are in the world, there is always a home for you at Myree Hill,( which is literally true as many were based here for periods of their life) it will forever be remembered as the place of family and gatherings, being called squib and painting jumps for the show during the holidays; of mornings hearing Grandad leave and trying to sneak out to help milk but having to escape past Grandma’s exceptional hearing to get down the creaking hallway.

Peter was an astute businessman and acquired a number of adjoining farms. This was another string to his bow that made him such an asset on committees.

My friendship with Peter spanned fifty-four years and to have known him so well was one of the great privileges of my life. It arose through he and Pat being clients of the pharmacy they supported where I began working and was cemented through our common faith and a journey together that flowed from that, plus a little socialising, particularly with Harvey Diener and the late David Yates.

He was responsible for re-forming the Catholic men’s charity, the Knights of the Southern Cross in Kiama, and would be the proud recipient of a 50 Year’s Membership Certificate in his later years. It wasn’t enough that Pat was regularly on tuckshop duty, Peter had to become a member of and later President for an extended period of the Parents & Friends at St Joseph’s convent school, as it was known then. The annual fete became the mainstay of fundraising and who can forget the National Hand Milking Championships he initiated, with Sr Janet a regular participant. Not only did this give the fete great publicity but it also attracted competitors from interstate and was a major fundraiser.

As the school expanded and more equipment was required, a casino night at the McGlinchey farm would become a great source of revenue for it and an annual event. He loved the “foreign” money that came in, as he called it, from the big spenders in Wollongong.

Peter served on the Ss Peter & Paul Parish Building Committee that oversaw the purchase of neighbouring land to extend the primary school and two major extensions. Using his own equipment, he not only cleared the land but was also responsible for the original fencing of the extensions. He was a member of the Wollongong Diocese Finance Board and its Catholic Development Fund. In 2001 Peter received a special award at the Annual Ss Peter & Paul Parish Dinner for his contribution to parish life. He worked tirelessly for St Matthew’s Church at Jamberoo.

Peter and Pat were great hosts and the annual Christmas parties, held at the farm for the Knights of the Southern Cross and their wives and other lay people who had supported our projects, were memorable events.

He phoned me at work one day and said that Bob Ingold had sold his dairy farm to some nuns from Sydney who were moving to Jamberoo. Would I go with him to see the Sisters and find out if there was any way we could help? Suddenly the men from the Knights of the Southern Cross and other helpers were organising transport from the train for Sydney visitors, then managing the parking at the official opening whilst our wives were doing the catering. Then there was the planting of the liquid ambers that form the avenue in front of the Abbey, each hole requiring a shovelful of McGlinchey’s best manure before each tree was planted. Assistance to the Abbey became a special project of the Knights. Landscaping around its small lake was carried out with plants that the Sisters had brought from their previous Abbey at Pennant Hills. Bushland was cleared around the Abbey to provide better bushfire protection. Monies were raised to enlarge the Abbey library.

As well as his work with the local branch of the KSC. Peter made a substantial contribution with state and diocesan KSC activities including behind the scenes organisation in regard to Papal visits, the installation of our Diocesan Bishop and promotion of the Passion plays organised in Sydney at Eastertime.

He was the “go to” man. One organisation needed a new fence. He said not to worry about the concrete base as he would be having a beer with one of the bosses in a couple of days. In due course the concrete truck turned up, but the bill for the concrete didn’t.

I had the honour of being asked to make a submission in regard to Peter when nephew John Bowden sought recognition, for Peter’s volunteering activities, in the Order of Australia Awards. He subsequently received the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2015. The information I was able to collect was breathtaking for the range of activities in which he had been engaged.

In 1960 the Globe Theatre in London premiered a play “A Man for All Seasons”, the life of Sir Thomas More. I was interested in the meaning of the title, a man who is ready to cope with any contingency and whose behaviour is always appropriate to every occasion. I believe Charles Peter Austin McGlinchey fits that description. May he rest in peace.


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